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Newly-Tested Rape Kit Yields Conviction In 1988 Tampa Sexual Assault

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A Hillsborough County jury found a Tampa man guilty of two counts of sexual battery with a weapon in connection with a 1988 rape thanks to a new DNA analysis on evidence in a recently-tested rape kit.

Police say a woman was sleeping on her couch in mid-November 1988 when she was awaken by a man holding a kitchen knife to her throat. Promising to stab her son if she resisted, the woman says he sexually assaulted her twice and fled the scene.

Deputies responded to the scene a short time later and recovered the knife just outside the front door of the home. The victim said she did not know the man who attacked her, and officers used a rape kit to collect physical evidence left on her person.

Investigators came across no further leads, and the case became cold. The rape kit sat on a shelf until two years ago, when the Florida Department of Law Enforcement tackled a backlog of rape kits. With new technology in hand, investigators developed a DNA profile of the suspect.

Per investigators, the DNA sample matched that of a 59-year-old man who had been in and out of Florida prisons for three decades. He was located at his home in Tampa and arrested six days shy of his 58th birthday in 2018. Identifying his vocation as that of a self-employed handyman, the Florida native was charged with two counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon.

The defendant was convicted on both charges last week and remains in jail awaiting sentencing in mid-February. Each conviction carries the possibility of a sentence of up to life in prison.

The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand have been representing people charged with capital murder, felony drug charges, drunk driving, government fraud, and white-collar crimes for over a quarter century. Contact our office today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area state or federal charges.

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